Friday, December 31, 2010
♬ Bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise - New Year's Eve 2010 ♬
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I can think of no better way to usher in the New Year than in the company of family and good friends. The New Year here is heralded with a show of fireworks to mark the passage of one year to the next. At midnight Bob and I, and those with us, will stand, glass in hand, to propose a toast to absent friends, those separated from us by time and place, as well as those who have made the final journey home. All are remembered with great joy as we recall the lessons they have taught us and the richness they have brought our lives. I treasure the time they spent at my table and their places there will always be reserved. I include you in their number and wish each of you a healthy and prosperous New Year. Here's to absent friends. Here's to all of you. Happy New Year.
Please don't miss the short film clip at the end of this post. It is the farewell waltz scene from the movie, Waterloo Bridge. It is lovely and quite appropriate for New Year's Eve.
Our holiday season doesn't end until the 2nd of January and that means special dinners are served on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The meals are rarely difficult to prepare, but they always have a festive air about them. I decided to make bouillabaisse this year because I had a new supply of saffron and knew everyone would enjoy the novelty and casual elegance of this dish. The folks at my local fish market were co-conspirators in its creation, and helped to find fish that would provide the flavor I needed without breaking the bank. My version of this dish is based on Julia Child's Bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise. Bouillabaisse is really a fish chowder which contains a variety of fish that is simmered in an aromatic fish broth. The chowder is eaten from shallow soup bowls and often served with toasted bread and a garnish of rouille. Rouille is a rust colored sauce that can be stirred into the bouillabaisse or spread on croutons that usually accompany the soup. For best flavor six or more varieties of fish should be used to make the chowder. That is why it makes no sense to make this dish for fewer than six people. Some of the fish should be firm fleshed and gelatinous, like halibut; some should be tender and flaky like sole. The firm fish hold their shape, and the tender fish partially disperse in the soup. Shellfish are optional, but I truly can't imagine a bouillabaisse without them. The fish can be prepared several hours before cooking and refrigerated until needed. The soup base can be made a day ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. Once the soup stock is brought to a boil, it will take about 20 minutes to cook the fish. The bouillabaisse should be served immediately with a crusty bread and rouille. It is an altogether lovely meal. The recipe for bouillabaisse and rouille appear below.
Bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Julia Child
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped leek
4 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
2-1/2 quarts water
Sprigs of fresh herbs: thyme, parsley, fennel fronds and basil (in any combination)
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 pounds fish heads, bones, trimmings, shrimp shells
1-1/2 pounds each peeled shrimp; wild cod, halibut and sole cut into chunks
1-1/2 pounds scrubbed and debearded or clams
Toasted rustic bread
Heat oil in a tall 6 to 8 quart pot over medium heat; add onion and leek and cook gently until softened. Stir in garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add tomato paste, water, herbs, saffron, salt and fish bones. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat so broth bubbles slowly without boiling. Cook 30 minutes, then strain broth into a large bowl or another pot, discarding solids. Pour broth back into stockpot and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook until they turn pink, a minute or two. Add rest of the fish and shellfish, cover and simmer until the mussels or clams open. Taste soup and add more salt and freshly ground pepper if needed. Serve bouillabaisse with toasted bread and rouille on the side. Yield: 6 servings.
1 roasted and peeled red bell pepper
1 roasted hot red chile pepper or ground cayenne pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small peeled garlic clove
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs or finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Puree everything except olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Slowly add olive oil while processing to form a paste.
Auld Lang Syne
The Farewell Waltz
You might also enjoy these recipes:
Italian Fish Soup with Fresh Herbs, Fennel, Shallots and Garlic - Karista's Kitchen
Oyster Stew - Seriously Soupy
Icelandic Fish Soup - For the Love of Food
Provencal Seafood Bisque - Simply Recipes
Simple Fish Soup - Tobias Cooks
Swedish Fish Soup - Klutzy Chef
Zuppa di Pesce Alla Napoletana - Memorie di Angelina
Seafood Bourride - Blue Kitchen